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CPC DRIVER CERTIFICATION AND WHO NEEDS IT?

The CPC certification is now a standard part of professional driving when that driving involves operating a lorry, bus, or coach. What is CPC? We will answer that question in more detail as we progress through this guide, but for now it is enough to know that CPC is a set of standards applied to initial driver training and career-long continuing education. It is a set of standards established by the European Union to ensure all professional drivers are both competent and proficient.

CPC certification is now legally required for almost all professional drivers holding Category C or Category D licences. There are some exceptions, which will also be explained later in this guide. Having said that, the government recommends all professional lorry, bus, and coach drivers assume they must have the CPC certification in order to drive legally. Any individual or entity who believes the possibility of an exemption exists should consult with a lawyer.

Driver CPC

What Is CPC: Initial Training

The CPC acronym stands for 'Certificate of Professional Competence'. Because CPC can be applied to other industries as well, the haulage and transport industries tend to designate our requirements as Driver CPC. This avoids any confusion between our industry and others.

All new drivers seeking to obtain their first Category C or Category D licence undergoes a complete training programme that includes initial CPC training. Along with the CPC training is preparation for the appropriate theory test and the practical skills instruction needed to pass the driver's final two exams. This entire process combined, including all of the tests, is known as the initial CPC qualification.

The driver should understand that he or she cannot obtain a commercial driving licence without completing this initial qualification. At the Specialised Training Services (HGV training), we successfully move most of our students through the qualification and training in a matter of weeks. However, the law allows drivers up to two years to qualify if necessary. A failure to do so within that time requires a driver to start over.

What Is CPC: Initial Training
What Is CPC: Remedial Training

What is Periodic Training

New drivers who completed the initial CPC qualification are presented with a CPC card demonstrating they have met their legal requirements. That card is good for five years. All drivers licenced prior to 2008/2009 were afforded acquired rights that gave them an additional five years to complete their CPC training. In 2015, all commercial drivers now on the road are expected to have a valid CPC card.

Remedial training, also known as periodic training, is required in order to renew an expiring card every five years. This training is intended to be both professional development and competency training that keeps the professional at the top of his/her game. It involves 35 hours of classroom work offered through an approved training provider such as the Specialised Training Services (HGV Training).

Remedial training does not have to be orientated to a limited list of just a few topics. Companies like ours that develop CPC courses are given the flexibility and latitude to custom design training courses to meet the needs of each of our clients. One client may want drivers to be trained in emergency road safety while another may prefer training in the safe transport of petroleum products. There are dozens of options in terms of the topics we can cover..

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What Is CPC: Who Needs It

One of the most common questions we get from our students is, “who needs CPC training?” The simple answer for professional lorry, bus, and coach drivers is 'everyone'. The key word here is 'professional'. There are some exceptions to the CPC requirements, which will be discussed later, but most of those exceptions involve non-professionals.

If you drive any of the following as a means of your principal source of income,
you must be CPC certified:
  • Articulated lorries
  • Tipper trucks
  • Bin lorries
  • Heavy construction equipment
  • Buses - both regional and local
  • Coaches - both regional and continental.

Furthermore, all operators (i.e., haulage and transport businesses) of HGV and PCV vehicles must also be CPC certified. Their training is slightly different due to their status as operators rather than drivers. However, the differences are minimal for practical purposes.

CPC Certification Exceptions

There are CPC certification exceptions built into the law. These are divided into two basic categories: exceptions for professionals and exceptions for non-professionals. Allow us to explain both.

You may be a professional driver operating a qualifying vehicle under the control of the armed forces, a police agency, a fire service, a civil defence organisation, or another entity tasked with maintaining public order. Such uses of commercial vehicles do not always require CPC certification. Such exceptions are not necessarily uniform, so it is always wise to get legal counsel before claiming one. As for non-professionals, the list of exceptions is quite a bit longer.

You do not need CPC certification under any of the following scenarios:
  • You are driving a minibus with a seating capacity of less than 19, for which you do not need a category C1+ E licence, and for which you receive no remuneration in exchange for your driving
  • You are driving the vehicle for the non-commercial carriage of passengers or goods for your own personal use
  • You are driving a vehicle for the purposes of rescue during states of emergency
  • Your vehicle is being used to transport material or equipment necessary for your work in a job in which driving is not your principal activity
  • You are driving for the purposes of testing a newly developed vehicle or a vehicle under repair
  • You are driving for the purposes of taking lessons or being tested
  • Your vehicle is being driven within 50 km of your base and carries no passengers or goods.

The broad-based exemptions are intended to allow limited driving of commercial vehicles by non-professionals without requiring CPC certification. A few examples might help you understand the purpose here.

Let us assume you are a former LGV driver who retired prior to 2009, planning to rent an LGV to move house. Because the rental vehicle will be used to transport your own goods, for personal use, you would not need to be CPC certified to operate the lorry for house moving. You could not do the same on behalf of someone else, however.

A second example is that of the farmer who may use commercial vehicles to transport materials and equipment necessary for farming. Because the individual's principal activity is not professional driving, CPC certification would not be needed to transport his or her equipment. The exemption does not apply to things such as transporting cattle to auction. Why? Because the carriage of cattle is a direct money-making enterprise rather than an indirect means of completing one's primary work.

A third example applies directly to HGV mechanics. And, in fact, this exemption was inserted specifically to help mechanics. They are allowed to drive commercial vehicles they are repairing for the purposes of testing or delivery. They do not need CPC certification.

We hope all of the information provided in this guide answers the question, “what is CPC and who needs it?” 

We have attempted to be as thorough as possible without giving you information that may be potentially inaccurate. We remind all of our readers that the regulations surrounding commercial driving are subject to routine changes. While we make every effort to ensure the information in our guides is completely up to date, there may be times when we have not yet caught up with regulatory changes here on our website.

Rest assured that even if the material in our guides is outdated, all of our training programmes are in full compliance with regulations at all times. We make a point to stay abreast of the regulations in order to ensure all of our drivers receive the training required to remain in compliance. We take great pride in the accuracy and completeness of the training programmes we offer.

The Specialised Training Services (HGV Training) is your one-stop training solution for all initial and periodic CPC training. What is the CPC if not an opportunity for us to help you become the most competent and proficient driver you can be?

Further Information on CPC Licence Certification

If you found this article useful you may wish to read more on CPC so please click on any of the headings listed below to find further reading information from the Specialised Training Services (HGV Training). If you prefer you can of course just give one of our expert customer support team a call or send us an email and we will be happy to assist you in any way we can.

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